Gallery Event in a Beautiful Little Town

DSCN5458Portsmouth is a beautiful little town! I had never been there before although my wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law make annual pilgrimages to do much of their Christmas shopping there—the SUV was packed to the gills this year!

I got there a little early so I had the chance to walk around. It reminded me of Northampton, but with the ocean nearby. We had a nice gathering at The Banks Gallery, owned by Jamie LaFleur ’94. DSCN5459Jamie was one of my first advisees here at Williston. He came to Williston as a sophomore from the Keene, NH area. He was a swimmer who was also looking for a strong arts program. After going to art school, Jamie opened his own gallery. I asked him where Banks came from and he said he sort of just plucked it out of the air. Business did well and about a year ago they moved into a new gallery located steps from the heart of downtown Portsmouth. Unfortunately, just after they moved in there was a fire in an adjacent building which did heavy smoke and water damage to the gallery. They had to shut down and get the pieces and gallery restored. He just reopened about four months ago.

DSCN5469Jamie deals with a lot of high-end painting. Jamie’s parents (Martha and Allan LaFleur) moved to the Portsmouth area back in May so they could be closer to their grandchildren. It was good to see them and they seem to be doing well.

DSCN5461Earlier this fall, Denny Grubbs walked into the gallery and Jamie recognized him, so Jamie invited him to the event. Denny still has lots of stories. It was fun to watch him make the rounds, making sure to stop to talk with everyone in attendance.

The first to arrive were Paul ’68 and Judy Wainwright. They live about an hour away but come to Portsmouth often to meet up with friends fordinner. Paul and Judy were back for his 45th last year and they continue to love Williston. Paul is big into photography so he and Jamie chatted for a while and exchanged cards.

DSCN5471Jenna Borowski Pelech ‘99 and her husband, John, attended. Jenna is originally from Southampton and her parents come out each week to take care of Jenna’s 13-month old daughter, Hadleigh (named after Hadley, MA). Jenna is helping out with her 15th Reunion.

The Duffys (Gerald Duffy and Effie Malley) were also in attendance. Their son, Sam, is a PG at Williston. Gerald, who is originally from the UK, scooted out early as he had a fencing class to attend. Effie hung around and seemed to enjoy talking with alumni. They love what Williston has had to offer Sam so far. They were looking for a strong music department and loved that we now offer AP Music Theory. They felt that Williston was just so “warm and welcoming.” Sam is looking at colleges in the UK, the US and Canada.

DSCN5465Jennifer Pelli Packard ’93 made the 45-minute drive to Portsmouth although her husband Jonathan was called away on a business trip at the last moment and couldn’t make it. Still Jenn paid for him “so they could get matching Williston pub glasses to go with their 1841 glasses.”

I had called Jarrod “Beaner” Zwirko ’00 up on Monday and invited him so I was psyched to see him. Jarrod is the Associate Head Women’s Swimming Coach at UNH, where he has worked for six years. He loves his job and the Portsmouth area. We caught up on old friends and had an interesting conversation about Williston and friendships. He keeps in touch with Jeremy Deason, Carson Roy, and Rene Lemieux.

DSCN5470Will Mclaughin ’05 made a bit of a surprise appearance. Will is an attorney in the Portsmouth area and got married in the last year or two. He was disappointed not to be able to make it back for the alumni basketball game but promises to try for next year. Will’s father is a big Diet Coke fan and Will said one of the reasons he decided to come here was because I had four cases of Diet Coke stacked up in my office when I did the interview and offered his dad one. Will is a huge golfer who qualified for the US Amateur this past year. I played up the Somona Valley Wine event and told him that there are some nice golf courses out there in Sonoma.

The final attendees were Pat Davy and her son Paul ’88. Paul works for an aviation company in Salem, NH. Pat said she was busy working on her golf game (bound and determined to get her handicap down into the teens, currently at 22). She is busy organizing a golf tournament in memory of Armand Davy which is scheduled to run July 12. She already has commitments from 10 foursomes and feels she will easily hit the maximum of 36 foursomes. The proceeds will go to purchasing golf carts for handicapped golfers. I urged her to go online and read the comments on the In Memoriam blog about Armand, which she hadn’t done yet. Pat and Patty Zwirko worked together for many years so Pat and Jarrod spent a lot of time chatting.

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